Lick twice for service

Massage girls to the rythm of 50 music tracks in qureate and Orgesta Inc.’s beat refle, a music game formerly known as Massage Freaks now available on Steam.

Beat refle is an ecchi rhythm game in which you play as a masseur named Atsushi Yubihara, who just inherited his late grandfather’s parlor. The workplace is promising but also riddled with a horrendous debt, which Atsushi would have to pay off in a month. To his aid comes a mysterious talking cat who grants the young man a special power. Through his massage techniques, Atsushi can now not only relax girl’s bodies, but also their minds, easing the stress and worries in their hearts. With his unique service, Atsushi is well on his way to repay the debt, despite its absurd repayment terms.

There are 50 music tracks to challenge throughout the game. During each musical portion, players will have to press buttons in time to the rhythm. Cute visuals of a girl being massaged play in the background while two tracks depicting each of the protagonist’s hands provide feedback to help guide the rhythm and point out which buttons have to be pressed next.

Additoinally, the heroines are more than just clients. Each has a unique personality and faces her personal troubles. Atsushi attempts to help them to the best of his ability, and slowly develops a relationship with each one of them. Slice of life visual novel segments play throughout the story mode and allow players to go on dates with the girls, often even leaving the massage parlor. There are six heroines appearing through the story.

The game was originally titled Massage Freaks and scheduled to release on the Nintendo Switch on August 4th. However, it faced backlash after its original announcement. Some netizens blamed it for encouraging criminal behavior, which occurred in Japanese massage parlors in the past. Meanwhile, other users claimed that the girl’s first names have been taken directly from the members of the idol group Hinatazaka46 in an attempt to depict or parody them. In reaction to these criticisms, qureate has indefinitely postponed the Switch release and promised to adjust to the game.

The sudden Steam release and retitle came unannounced. Its store page bears notices addressing the criticism and the game itself has been altered. Aside from the name change, the team has also renamed the heroines and toned down the ecchi animations. To enjoy beat refle with its full visual appeal, players have to download an external patch from the developer’s website. The patch changes the behavior of costumes during the musical portions of the game, as well as reinstates additional minigames, which players can enjoy after reaching set high scores in the rhythm challenges.

It is unknown whether the external patch policy was decided on due to the netizen’s reaction to the initial trailer, or if it's due to a common trend among adult games’ developers to distribute erotic content for their games externally to appease Steam’s ambiguous content regulations. FInally, no news has been given about the potential Nintendo Switch release, which remains delayed at this time.

Beat refle is now available on Steam for the promotional price of $25.19 until August 7th, at which point it will cost $27.99. A patch expanding on its ecchi content is available on the game’s newly reinstated website.

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